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Leaders Can Prioritize Employee Mental And Physical Health

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Leaders Can Prioritize Employee Mental And Physical Health

Feb 04, 2021
Forbes « Back to The Skinny

As we enter a new year, CEOs and HR leaders are in a unique position to listen to and act upon employee needs, ensuring that their teams are at their best mental and physical states. Resolutions will likely look a little different this year, with burnout and stress running rampant among employees. According to a 2020 study, more than one in four adults report symptoms of depression, meaning leaders need to put holistic wellness at the forefront.

Promoting holistic wellbeing and a culture of health has always been a fundamental business priority for leading CEOs. The difference now is that everyone—the public, employees and potential talent—is watching. Plus, helping build resilience and support immunity, critical components for holistic wellness and pandemic fighting, is front and centre. These strategies aren’t just essential for employee health, but also healthy bottom lines. 

The Impact Holistic Wellness has on Employees & the Company

Working from home the past year has unleashed new wellness obstacles, whether it took the form of physical illness, increased burnout and anxiety, or another ailment. Rob Butler, CEO of Naturally Slim, says that “Zoom fatigue and weariness are new diseases that we have to combat, and the energy level required to work from home is much different and, in many cases, harder.”

The pandemic has caused many setbacks for leaders attempting to create a work environment conducive to high engagement. However, leaders are using these challenges as a starting point to establish new and improved workplaces. One way they are doing this is through revamped holistic benefit offerings. According to Butler, “Being mentally and physically healthy gives our employees the mental stamina to adjust to the new environment we’re all living in. And to deliver the resources employees genuinely need to be at their best, leaders need to meet and connect with them where they are.” 

Research shows a strong correspondence between employees’ stated needs and the underlying drivers of their engagement, wellbeing, and work effectiveness. What’s more, employees who feel heard by leadership are 4.6 times more likely to perform at their best. Employers can now truly listen and provide the resources employees need to get and stay healthy to remain engaged in their roles, which improves company bottom lines.

In addition to productivity, healthy employees save businesses money in healthcare costs. For example, research shows that each pound of excess weight gained by employees is estimated to cost $82 in related medical and disability problems related to chronic diseases, like metabolic syndrome and diabetes. For example, if average annual weight gain is five pounds per employee, it would lead to $410 in potential future medical and disability claims per employee, or more than $2 million for a company with 5,000 employees. So, providing education and resources needed to improve mental and physical health can lead to millions in savings.

How Leaders Can Prioritize Employee Mental and Physical Health

Today’s workforce has high expectations for value alignment stemming from the social unrest we’ve seen the past couple years, and employees can easily sniff out insincerity. To be successful, a leader needs to be genuine and get to know employees’ needs and wants, says Butler. He states, “Doing things for the wrong reason is the kiss of death. Choice, flexibility, authenticity, and empathy are the linchpins to success.” 

It’s common for employers to take a one size fits all approach when tackling employees’ health and wellness. However, this approach doesn’t work, because individual needs go unnoticed, showing employees that leadership lacks care. The mental and physical health of employees can only be prioritized if it is ingrained into a business’ success, where employees are given flexible options to address their individual needs. 

Americans are hoping the new year brings ease, comfort, and success. Business leaders can lead the way and truly provide the tools, resources and support employees’ need to jump-start 2021 on the right foot. At the end of the day, our mental and physical health are our most critical assets and are the determining factor in our ability to show up for those who rely on us, including family, peers, and colleagues.

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